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Jodie Harrison reveals what makes the perfect party and the ideal guest

December’s – ‘The Party Issue’ – Download Now

The Gift Guide – Download Now 

Previously at MR PORTER, MODA OPERANDI and most recently at Soho House where she was Chief Membership & Communications Officer, curator of exceptional content, Jodie Harrison tells us what makes the perfect party and the ideal guest.

What do your first 30 mins of the day look like, your morning routine?

I wake up early – generally, around 5 or 6am (much to the annoyance of my husband who is a night owl). I check my phone and walk our dog, Jed, up to Hampstead Heath or down to Primrose Hill. I’m at my most creative in the morning, so spend a lot of this walk writing down ideas and thoughts on my iPhone.

How did your previous roles set you up for success and did you always know you wanted to work in the luxury industry?

I started out my career at GQ as their Style & Grooming Editor, having always dreamt of working in magazines. As a consequence, print holds a special place in my heart. In every job since, I’ve enjoyed seeing how print evolves in the ever-growing shadow of digital. At MR PORTER it manifested as a way to reach new customers in The MR PORTER Post and books we published with Thames & Hudson. At Soho House, I edited their second coffee-table book, MORNING NOON NIGHT, and again, this was often someone’s first, proper introduction to the brand. There will always be a sense of luxury to a printed page – and now more than ever, there’s a desire for something tangible, crafted. The confidence, time, meticulousness and energy of putting something in ink will always be a luxury to me.

 You have to wear multiple hats in your role. Do you feel more drawn to the creative or the business side?

In my gut, it’s always the creative side. That’s my default setting, the place that makes me get up in the morning and breathe happily. The business side takes more study, planning and method for me but over the years as I’ve moved from magazines to digital and e-commerce, I often found myself thrilled at the business acumen I’ve built up.

 You’ve lived both in London and New York, is there a difference in terms communication?

There’s a huge, gaping difference. In the US, service is gold. Even if you have the best product out there, if you have poor service, you might as well forget it. Good service comes from strong supply chains, amazing logistics, over-communication, clarity and commercial confidence. Americans are comfortable with being sold to, so you become much more overt in your marketing tactics. In the UK, it’s about packing things up in more clever, palatable ways with tinges of humour – back-door marketing.

What makes the perfect host and the ideal guest?

For years, hosting for me was about seeking perfection: an exquisitely set table, an overcomplicated menu and fancy cocktails. As I’ve got older, I’ve realized it’s about being relaxed and spending less time in the kitchen and more time with your guests. A fun host is a fun party. Leave the washing up (what a buzz kill!). It’s that simple. A year later, people will remember the dancing, the laughter – the brilliant conversation, not the burnt bruschetta. Oh, and the outfits – that’s one place I refuse to be relaxed.

Do you have any mentors or guides and how does this help navigate the right path throughout life and your career?

My mentor is my second boss, Jeremy Langmead, who hired me to be Editor at the yet-to-be-launched MR PORTER in 2009. He is always the first person I call when a prospective role has me on the fence or there’s a crisis I can’t think my way out of. He has an amazing grip on perspective and the sharpest tongue I’ve ever witnessed. I might start the conversation in tears but I always end it in rib-aching laughter. His words and wisdom calm me.

 What do you look for in terms of hiring your own team?

I look for self-starters who bring joy to teamwork. I look for honesty, an open heart and the willingness to go that extra mile. I also look for people better than I am – nothing pushes you as a leader than a high-performing, fun-loving team.

 How has this year impacted the industry both positively and negatively?

The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have been clearly devastating to the hospitality industry. What’s been heartbreaking to watch is the fact this has mostly kicked businesses at the start gate or on the smaller size – the bigger boys have investors and bank balances to help them weather the storm.

There have been good things to emerge from this chapter though – the focus on less is more, local and hand-crafted. At Soho House we focused on tighter, more efficient teams, better food, better service, and for the customer, we saw a more discerning eye that knows, and rewards, quality.

 How has social media affected the luxury industry and which platform has been most useful? 

Love it or hate it, social media has been the constant over the last 15 years. I’ve managed social teams in every job I’ve had and It’s been incredible to watch how this sector- and Instagram in particular – has helped grow luxury. The part I like seeing now is how it’s enabling young brands to reach their customers directly and without a middle-man. I’m an avid Instagram user and find it an incredible source for discovering new brands, new friends and new ideas.

 What should you gift the host when attending a dinner?

Something they don’t always love to buy themselves. I like getting a scented candle or a pretty scented bouquet, as it’s something I’ll use for a few days afterwards and remember the person who gave it to me as see and smell it.

Which Instagram accounts do you follow for inspiration?

I follow a huge amount of interior-design and Antique furniture accounts as this is an area I’m moving further and further towards. My current favourites to follow are @ralfesyard, @larlatan and @8hollandstreet. I also love typography accounts – check out @voilaineetjeremy!

Do you have any pre-bedtime rituals?

No matter if the hours have been passing, I always, without fail, remove my make-up before bed. I have a shower (even at 3am), I put on a serum (Barbara Sturm’s and The Ordinary’s collections are my current artillery) and I drink a glass of water.

 If you were not on your current career path, which other role would you have chosen career-wise?

Well, funny you should ask. I just left Soho House to pursue a new career in interior design. I’m retraining in the new year with a course at Inchbald School of Interior Design and some placements with friends in the industry – Vicky Charles of Charles & Co and James Waterworth or Thurston Design. So, I guess I’m doing my other career right now – or at least I’m starting out on the path. I’m calling it a pivot, my second life, and I can’t wait.

 What’s your secret to surviving party season and still looking flawless?

Not very party girl – but sleep. I like at least 8 hours and never do three nights out in a row unless the third is for something really special.

 What is your go-to party outfit?

Right now it’s pretty much anything by Khaite – the collection by New York designer Cate Holstein who we worked with closely during my time at Moda Operandi. She has this incredible eye for nostalgia and I’m always drawn to her seasonal narrative. I bought several pairs of her flared silk pants this year and currently like wearing them with just a simple silk camisole, topped off with an oversized wool coat by Nanushka and a pair of heels by Bottega – they’re just comfy enough so I can dance!

What is on your Wishlist this festive season?

Honestly – a holiday. I miss travelling, foreign food, antique shopping and the feeling of stumbling across somewhere totally new. If Covid permits, I’ll be heading to Marrakesh in late December. My friend owns the beautiful El Fenn hotel there and we are planning a good old New Year’s get together under the starry skies.

December’s – ‘The Party Issue’ – Download Now

The Gift Guide – Download Now 

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Images: Supplied

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